The debate of the role technology plays in our relationships has continued to pose many questions as it advances and its prevalence in our lives increases. While it strengthens long distance relationships by posing a plethora of options for continued communication, it may create a divide in how well people can actually understand each other without any real, 3D interaction.
Take the new app, BroApp, for example. The App was created in order to allow users to spend “more time with their bros.” BroApp will send automated texts to your significant other so that you don’t have to remember to. It also allows for the designation of “no bro zones,” or places where the app will automatically be disabled (i.e. places where are you with your significant other).
This App poses a series of questions to discuss, one being the problem of sexism, and the other being the outsourcing of humanity, or in this case, “maximizing” romantic connection and communication through “seamless relationship outsourcing.” The former would develop into a post of its own, so for the sake of this post I will focus solely on the latter.
The developers of BroApp defended the benefits of their app, delivering the idea that the technology serves to increase both agents’ happiness. The guy is happier that he no longer has to stress about “finding time during the busy day to text, and the girl is happier because her boyfriend is more engaged in their relationship.” This is where the developers haven’t looked far enough ahead. A relationship in a sense is defined by a moral commitment, and this app, and the act of technology doing our social work for us in general, is short-term. Relationships, romantic or otherwise, are based on moral commitments. These social etiquettes have not yet been defined in the new age of technological dependence, but my guess is that they shouldn’t vary much from the social norms for etiquette we experience in the real world. Disengagement by BroApp users will only decrease the users ability to engage when real interaction is inevitable, and the reliance on technology will be of little help when faced with anything of real, physical personal value.
Currently, technology is a short-term fix for relationships. It may get you through the long-distance relationship for four years of college, or it may relieve the pressure of having to communicate to others while you are “too busy to” (but honestly, how long does it take to send a 10 word text). However, reliance on technology will only weaken our ability to communicate in the real-world, the same way reliance on cars weakens our fitness to walk.
Currently, technology is a short-term fix because we can only go so long without necessary real world interaction. In the future, however, real world interaction may not be necessary at all, and when this is the case, technological communication may be the only communication society really knows.